MAKE KIDS 'WEIRD'?
Do kids seem "normal" after one or two or twelve years of homeschooling?
The short answer is "yes, absolutely," most of them. But people are people ~ some people seem "different" no matter how they're educated. Personalities and giftedness varies greatly from person to person. What affects one person as a good challenge and a welcome freedom may overwhelm and defeat another. You know that already from your own life and educational experiences. The great thing about homeschooling/unschooling is the adaptation of the approach to learning based upon giving a child the individual time and attention necessary to his or her complete development, intellectually as in every other way.
Homeschoolers are individuals. No two are alike. Some fail and some succeed beyond anyone's wildest expectations. What you get out of homeschooling -- as with everything else is life -- is based upon what you bring to it and put into it consistently. But all the homeschoolers I've ever met share one trait: they possess a spark that can't be quenched for continueal learning. Lifelong learning is necessary for a full and interesting life.
If you see education as mere "bucket-filling" -- putting the 'right things' into a child's mind so they can be poured back out on demand --you'll miss out on seeing the fires of passion for life lit within your children's minds and hearts and seeing them stay lit for life!
If you met my Juliana -- twenty-four now, homeschooled/unschooled all her life and a VOCAL advocate of delight-driven learning -- what you'd be struck with most is the scope and breadth of her knowledge base, the ready and open way she interacts with people of all ages, and her effortless willingness to express deeply held opinions in respectful (and witty) dialogue. She's studied Egyptology in distance courses, loves biology and art, acquired a trade to support herself (dental assisting in an endodonic specialty), and is looking into going further into the dental field professionally. She volunteers in Christian medical/dental missions, is a bridal party makeup artist, and still retains her coluratura vocal skills. Definitely outside the box ~ and she didn't get here by accident.
DID HOMESCHOOLING MEAN THAT JULIANA 'MISSED OUT'?
Every kid -- and every adult for that matter -- feels like they "miss out" by doing one thing one way over another. Making one sort of choice does set things in motion in a certain way. Taking the road less travelled, as Robert Frost said, can make all the difference. But that doesn't mean that while on the journey down that less travelled path there aren't questions, regrets or wishful thinking about other options.
I offer the homeschool resources on this site as a free gift -- like the significant blessings and gorgeous God-given graces that abound in my own life and my daughter's -- but I do ask that you not republish any of my original materials without permission.
Did Juliana ever wish she had gotten a chance to go to school? Sure, there were moments when Juliana expressed a wishful thought about schooling, so I found a school where she could be an in-class visitor. This was when she was in second grade, and she came home amazed at all the rules there were to govern every aspect of life including when you could go to the bathroom.
Later I helped create small classroom-type learning experiences for her and her homeschooling buddies. And there are so many choices today for classes of various sorts that some homeschoolers I know complain of never actually being 'home.'
By the time she was 8, Juliana was invited to go into 4th and 5th grade classrooms to teach about butterflies and moths -- she was an expert on them by age 7 and she met with three of the most expert entymologists in the US before she was in 5th grade.
By the time she was 10, she was docenting art classes for 3rd and 4th graders through a county museum program. I was her adult assistant, but she went through all the teaching programs and, because she's a gifted artist, could easily demonstrate how to do different techniques. She did this docenting for "enrichment" for public school classes and also at an inner city community center for underprivileged kids. She won two mayor's awards for her community service for this by the time she was 12.
At 10 and 11, she had her own Beanie Babie business and earned $4,000 in a little over a year. She also learned how to do bookkeeping and really polished her math skills so that she could keep track of her earnings. She put those $$$ into savings and used it to help fund some special things she wanted to be a part of and paid a good chunk toward her first car with the remainder.
During her middle school years, she was in literally hundreds of plays and public performances, a myriad of singing competitions (she's a trained and award-winning classical vocalist), and even took college level courses in theater and arts.
She's been free to travel with us here in the US and abroad, turning each trip into a new educational adventure, learning a foreign language with a chance to actually use it in context.
She's mentored other homechoolers and is an inspiration to other families because she understands what works and what doesn't for herself. Juliana's learned a lot about learning styles, about the function of education in human history and personal development, how to communicate with people, and how to critique her culture. She sees how trapped so many of her peers feel and is grateful that even now as she chooses a career and educational path that's different from others' that she knows why she's doing what she's doing.
It's life lived consciously and outloud, not something you do by default. People are always amazed when they speak with her that she's not 5-8 years older than she is.
I just kept telling her from the time she was a little tiny girl that "once you know how to learn you can learn anything," and I didn't use the word "responsibility" with her -- I only used the word "privilege." Those two things made a lot of difference, Juliana tells me today, as well as the fact that I allowed her to make so many choices about when to study and what and kept on creating ways for her to pursue education in creative, outside-the-box ways.
There are soooo many choices for homeschoolers today, choices that didn't exist when I started with Juliana. Part of our road and our contribution to this generation is a legacy of vibrant homeschool networks and the normalizing of homeschooling as an option. Juliana is as proud of what we accomplished together as I am.
Were there rough bits in the road? Naturally. Were there moments of conflict? Of course. But those would be there no matter what the choice of schooling made.
Juliana was what many referred to as an "outrageous child," as many gifted children are. In traditional school settings, very gifted children are as punished as very slow ones, but in different ways. I just made it my goal to keep the future in mind, knowing that what's "outrageous" in a 4 or 6 or 8 may be the genius of the 25-year-old if harnessed and directed and encouraged and valued and nurtured.
The point was that we consciously accepted the privilege of education as a familial right, not one to be handed off to the state. And that choice, that road less travelled, has made all the difference.
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